The NOS International Program Office (IPO) is the focal point for NOS's international activities to enhance U.S. and international capabilities for ocean and coastal management. Specifically, IPO facilitates international partnerships, capacity building, scientific and technical exchanges, and access to NOS products and services.
Many Caribbean economies depend on coastal and marine activities—such as fishing and tourism—which would be directly threatened by degradation of the marine environment.
In fiscal year 2012, NOAA continued working with the United Nations Environment Programme Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA). The GPA is a long-standing, multilateral program designed to help governments in the wider Caribbean manage the impact land-based sources of pollution, like urban and agricultural runoff, have on coastal and marine ecosystems. In addition to co-chairing the U.S. delegation to the GPA's intergovernmental review in 2012, this past year NOAA collaborated with GPA to begin developing a project proposal to strengthen watershed management in the eastern Caribbean for submittal to the World Bank Global Environment Facility. NOAA has been a key partner in the GPA since its inception in 1995.
The National Ocean Service continued to provide program oversight for a cooperative program involving five of NOAA's line offices and two Korean agencies. In fiscal year 2012, NOAA received $850,000 from these agencies for short-term exchanges in such areas as NOAA Sea Grant, harmful algal bloom research, marine protected area management, integrated coastal/watershed management, fisheries research, ocean and coastal observations and data exchange, and aquaculture.
The Korean Ministry of Land Transport and Maritime Affairs and the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry jointly provided NOAA with this funding to promote effective stewardship for ecosystem approaches to coastal and ocean management. In December, NOAA's Administrator signed a new Joint Project Agreement extending this now decade-old agreement between NOAA and the Korean agencies. The program continues to provide NOAA scientists and managers a venue to pursue joint research with the international scientific community.
U.S. and Chilean officials attend marine and terrestrial protected areas workshop held in Valparaiso, Chile.
In 2012, NOAA and the National Park Service (NPS) continued working with Chilean agencies on the management of marine and terrestrial protected areas. This ongoing collaboration includes capacity building, staff exchange between national parks, and partnership development among protected areas.
To date, under the auspices of the Department of State U.S.-Chile Environmental Cooperation Agreement, NOAA and NPS have raised close to $500,000 to create two sister park agreements between U.S. and Chilean sites. At a 2012 meeting, National Parks and National Marine Sanctuaries in California and the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument initiated a process to partner with equivalent Chilean sites, and a draft umbrella memorandum of understanding on cooperation for marine and terrestrial protected areas was prepared and is currently under review. U.S.- Chile cooperation on protected areas is a priority issue for both nations, as highlighted in the March 2011 joint statement by U.S. President Obama and Chilean President Piñera.
In June, the International Programs Office (IPO) facilitated a workshop for Trinidad's Integrated Coastal Zone Management Steering Committee at the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Marine Affairs. The workshop established a common understanding of integrated coastal zone management; identified related issues and stakeholders; defined a preliminary vision and goal for the policy; identified thematic working groups; and developed a work plan for the Steering Committee.
IPO also briefed the U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago on NOAA's role in supporting coastal management in Trinidad and Tobago. This nation is one of 13 countries in the wider Caribbean that IPO is working with under an agreement between NOAA and the United Nations Environment Programme Global Programme of Action. The agreement provides countries in the region with technical assistance to develop national plans of action to reduce or control polluted land-based runoff to the marine environment.
Dr. Larry Robinson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere at NOAA, and Chinese State Oceanic Administration officials at a World Ocean Week event in Xiamen, China.
In November, Dr. Larry Robinson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere at NOAA, delivered a keynote address at the 2011 World Ocean Week (WOW) Conference in Xiamen, China. International Programs Office (IPO) staff participated in the conference as well, themed "Land - Sea Use Integration for a Sustainable Marine Economy."
While in China, Dr. Robinson and IPO staff met with officials from China's State Oceanic Administration to discuss current partnership projects and represented the U.S. and spoke at the unveiling ceremony of the Asia - Pacific Economic Cooperation's Marine Sustainable Development Center in Beijing. These activities, along with participation in WOW, fall under the U.S.-China Protocol on Marine and Fisheries Science and Technology Cooperation, for which NOAA leads the Panel on Marine Policy, Management, and International Marine Affairs. Since 1979, this agreement has enhanced collaboration on marine issues of common concern between the two countries.